Muslim World League (MWL) Secretary-General Mohammed Al-Issa and Singapore’s Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam opened the second Forum of the Heads of Islamic Cultural Centers and Associations outside the Islamic world in Singapore on Saturday.
The forum was organized by Jamiyah Singapore — also known as the Muslim Missionary Society Singapore — and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO).
During the opening ceremony, the president of Jamiyah Singapore, Hasbi Abu Bakar, thanked the minister and the secretary-general for their patronage and explained that the fact this forum was happening reflected the success of the first forum.
ISESCO Director General Abdul Aziz Othman Al-Twaijri also extended his gratitude to the minister and the MWL chief and commended Jamiyah Singapore for organizing the event.
Al-Issa said: “It is my pleasure to be here in Singapore, whose people are an outstanding example of coexistence, tolerance and social harmony. They have actually set an example for the whole world.”
He stressed that the MWL focuses on fostering understanding and a culture of cooperation, tolerance and civilized communication.
“Everyone agrees on the concept of peace, but there is a large disparity in integrating it, which is reflected in its application model,” Al-Issa said. “This is permeated with narrow interests and horizons, which are the main hindrances in the face of achieving justice and world peace.”
Al-Issa also called for greater awareness of the dangers threatening our world today, particularly terrorism — which he described as a plague that has reached all countries through social media — and Islamophobia, which he called a phenomenon exploited by terrorists to spur emotional reactions among the youth and gain more followers due to the naivety of the people they are targeting.
Shanmugam agreed with Al-Issa on the dangers of Islamophobia in non-Muslim countries, and said he hoped more would be done to fight this phenomenon.
“The government of Singapore is working hard to combat Islamophobia and its promoters, as well as raising awareness about its dangers among non-Muslims,” he said. “Singapore’s law protects religious freedom and ensures that followers of all religions can perform their rituals without restraint.”